Teens are known for their defiance and mood swings. It is considered a defining feature of puberty. Recent studies suggest that nutrition may play a factor in teen moodiness as teens tend to eat unhealthy foods based on impulsive sugar cravings for energy and lack of nutrition education. As high levels of sodium from processed foods increase teens’ risk of depression, adopting a healthy diet may manage symptoms of depression.
Feeding Your Brain: Relationship Between Healthy Diet and Depression
As accessibility to a wide variety of foods has increased, teens take for granted that food is “brain fuel” meant to nourish their bodies rather than an indulgence. What we put into our bodies determines the level of energy our bodies can exert. Simple carbohydrates, like fast food and candy, may give teens short bursts of energy, but can lead to sugar crashes and lethargy, which reinforce feelings of depression. Complex carbohydrates, like grains and fruits, provide sustained energy that help teens stay focused and engaged over longer periods of time.
According to a study in Spain, people who eat fast food more regularly are 48% more likely to experience symptoms of depression. There are a number of factors that explain the link between depression and an unhealthy diet, including poor body image, lack of energy to cook, and eating meals alone.
When teens take care of their bodies, they are taking care of their minds. Feeling good physically is associated with feeling better emotionally.
Gender Stereotypes about Nutrition
People assume that preoccupation with nutrition and body image issues are “girl problems” and hold different standards for boys. People are less likely to give teen boys nutrition advice and believe that their appetites are proportionate to their growing bodies. Based on gender stereotypes, boys are less likely to be included in conversations about self-care. As a result, boys are less likely to keep up with self-care practices.
While girls are more likely to report feelings of depression and to reach out for help, boys who are depressed are more likely to struggle alone as they don’t know how to express their emotions. Boys are encouraged to participate in sports and other group activities as an outlet for intense emotions. Girls are given resources for emotional support and self-care.
Nutrition is Just One Element of a Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy lifestyle factors include eating regular, nutritious meals, establishing a structured sleep schedule, and participating in physical activity. Understanding the relationship between increased physical health and mental health, we offer substantial opportunities for our students to physically engage in active and exciting ways while receiving encouragement each step of the way.
As part of our efforts to help teen boys live a healthier lifestyle, students at Equinox attend groups on nutrition and body image, participate in daily workouts, and try a variety of adventure activities on off-campus outings.
Equinox Can Help
Equinox RTC is a residential treatment center in Western North Carolina for young boys ages 14-18 that emphasizes the mind-body connection in helping teenage boys struggling with depression. We emphasize academics, family therapy, adventure therapy, physical fitness, and relationships. Students develop a healthy sense of social and emotional awareness and learn how to incorporate good habits into their daily lives We understand that this is a difficult and confusing time for the whole family, but we’re here to help you find light in the darkness.
For more information about how we help teen boys with depression, call 877-279-8925.